Nov. 5 (Reuters) – British scientists have identified a version of a gene that may be linked to the dual risk of lung failure from COVID-19, a finding that provides new insights into why some people are more susceptible than others to serious diseases and which opens up possibilities for targeted medicine.
The high-risk genetic variant resides in a chromosome region that also doubles the risk of death in COVID-19 patients under the age of 60.
About 60% of people of South Asian descent carry the high-risk version of the gene, Oxford University researchers said Friday. -19 in the Indian subcontinent.
The scientists found that the increased risk comes from a gene that regulates the activity of other genes, including a gene called LZTFL1 that is involved in the response of lung cells to viruses.
As a result, the gene variant could inhibit the appropriate response to the virus between cells lining the airways and lungs.
However, LZTFL1 does not affect the immune system that makes antibodies to fight infection, researchers said, adding that people who carry the variant should respond normally to vaccines.
The study “shows that the way the lung responds to the infection is critical. This is important because most treatments aim to change the way the immune system responds to the virus,” said Professor James Davies, co -lead of the study.
dr. Raghib Ali of the University of Cambridge, a COVID-19 and ethnicity adviser at the UK Cabinet Office, said in a statement that even after taking into account higher rates of COVID-19 risk factors such as working in public jobs and housing in densely populated areas, “there has been an inexplicable residual risk in South Asians.”
This new study, he added, shows “that this may be due to the fact that they are more likely to carry this gene, which increases their risk of death once infected.”
The findings are published in the journal Nature Genetics.
dr. Simon Biddie, an intensive care specialist at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement that while the study provides “conclusive evidence to suggest roles for LZFTL1” in the lungs of patients with severe COVID-19, more research is needed to to confirm the findings.
Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Anil D’Silva, Nancy Lapid, Christine Soares and David Gregorio
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